ABOUT THE FISH
How do I draw? First, the species of fish has to peak my fancy, that's not to say one species is better than the other, some just strike me as wanting to sit down and draw. Some drawings come easy, some take a few tries that end up crumbled up, and have me up until the wee hours of the morning. After the pencil drawing, I then go in and trace, as best I can, what I drew with a black pen. I tend to let the drawing sit for a day or so - come back to it and make sure anatomically it still jives and I like what I see. At this point, I move forward or make the painful decision to start over. I've been halfway though the completion of a drawing and bailed... Then it's the arduous task of stippling. As far as that goes, it's all feel. Where to shade, what details to gravitate to, and in many ways, knowing when to stop. If that wasn't the case, I'd never finish a drawing. I have to except what my instincts were during the time of the drawing and be accepting of those choices. Make no mistake, I can still look a drawing after it's completion and printed and still be critical about something. That's where PBR helps.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Growing up in Connecticut, in a town alongside Long Island Sound, always had me gravitating to the Sound or the Byram River; the river ebbed and flowed behind the road I grew up on. I remember a high tide bringing in the carcass of a bluefish - picked apart on the shore by silversides and mumachugs - but the size (and the teeth) were still visible. I recall thinking what other fish, bigger fish, might swim beyond Long Island Sound, in the vastness of open ocean. Tuna, shark, swordfish, basking shark, great whites, makos, thresher, yellowfin tuna, albacore, bonito, the giants of the sea, a list too long to list. I’ll never be able to draw them all. During high school, when my commercial fishing began, I was aboard a lobster boat named the F/V Endurance, that fished out of Cos Cob Harbor. (In the late eighties, lobster inhabited Long Island Sound, but this is no longer the case. Some reasons hint at fertilizers and mosquito abatement chemicals, the fishery has collapsed.) Those days, fishing was on weekends, school breaks and the summer months. This weekend lobstering eventually pushed me into a lifelong relationship with the sea - starting on the Byram River behind my home, moving onto Long Island Sound, and finally out to the Atlantic. Since those formative years, I’ve worked at other occupations, but have always returned to the water - deliberately or not. I’ve worked on draggers, a gillnet boat from ports in Shinnecock Inlet, Long Island and Point Judith, Rhode Island, and day boats and offshore vessels out of Stonington, Connecticut. While I’ve accumulated many hours on the deck of commercial vessels, I have the utmost respect for the men and women who have fished their entire life, every day, year after year, decade after decade. As I begin to get on in years, and my days of fishing wane, it is my hope that drawing will continue to connect me with the water, the deep Atlantic ocean, will allow me to stay just a pencil and paper away from the sea. - James Gwiazdzinski